A LONG-AWAITED project to transform part of York’s history into a 21st century community hub is about to start.

The 500-year-old Red Tower, near Navigation Road, is about to take on a new lease of life after the keys were handed over to builders for an ambitious refurbishment.

The Red Tower CIC is a not-for-profit group which earlier this year took the tower on a 30-year-lease from City of York Council. The group has been fundraising and planning towards the dream of creating a new community space in the unique building.

Chairman Barry Beckwith said: “From the very first green shoots of the concept of creating such a wonderful space for the local and wider community, the Red Tower team has strived hard to achieve the vision in this historic building.

“The project has been strongly supported every step of the way by our many partners including the City of York council, helping to make it happen. We are also grateful to the funding bodies who have assisted with very generous financial support.

“All in all, a great team effort has resulted in us being where we are not only today, but for many years in the future.”

Now Croft Farm Construction - which also worked on the Bar Convent in York - has taken on the job of a sensitive refurbishment, which will include a glass-enclosed staircase, kitchen facilities, LED lighting, glazed windows and a toilet. All have been designed to be flood-resilient, after the disastrous flood on Boxing Day 2015, and Holland Brown Architects have designed the upgrade to create a ground floor cafe and an upstairs meeting space which will be available for business and community use.

There will also be space outside the building for a community growing bed and outdoor events.

Funding has come from a range of sources, including the City of York Council, Two Ridings Community Foundation, and Yorventure’s Landfill Communities Fund.

Yorventure’s Angela Pease said: “Yorventure and Yorwaste Ltd are delighted to support this exciting project, which will see the restoration of this iconic building for use by the whole community.”

The work should be finished by February 2018, when both the indoor and outdoor space will be available for hire for community and private events.

More information is available at www.redtoweryork.org.uk.